Hi, I am Daphne and I am a Visual Designer. I joined FIRE Lab in January 2020 and I am keen to explore the relationship between science and art.

Underwater Haiku Exquisite Corpse Creation, is one of the many sci-art projects we work on, here in FIRE Lab.  Initially we envisioned it as a series of events around Swansea and Bristol. The events’ aim would be to bring people together in specifically designed spaces, and get creative about underwater environments. Soon, due to the current circumstances, we had to redesign the activities and move from in person to online; thus, Underwater Haiku Exquisite Corpse Creation was born.

This blog post, is an opportunity for me to share about my artistic experience in science communication within the lab.  It is also a chance to reflect on how I shifted my creations from a series of images meant to augment the reality of a workshop space, to digital artworks seeking to engage people around the world about our rivers and underwater environments.

This project, initially challenged me to create figures based on the imagery of two distinct worlds: the underwater and the world of dreams. From this duality emerged the idea of creating animal-fish-bird-insect hybrids. The notion of representing two opposing worlds in one design was very inspiring for me, because both consist of numerous different stories and countless different paths I could follow with my artwork.

From this challenge, the “Underwater Realm” series of drawings were created for FIRE Lab’s Underwater Haiku Experience. Salmonmayfly, pictured just below, is the creature leading this “Underwater Realm”.

It is within my artistic interest, to always try and bind my creations to my reality. Salmonmayfly is a chimerical creature. It symbolises the connection between the culture and nature that surrounds me; the ancient culture and magical nature of Wales.

Henrhyd Falls, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK

I chose the Salmon to be the base creature of Salmonmayfly because of its connection to the mythical Llyn Llyw, one of the “Oldest and Wisest Animals” according to Welsh mythology. On the other hand, according to the current Welsh reality, the Salmon is one of the most important migratory species that we should be able to find traveling in Welsh rivers.

I paired the Salmon with the mayfly, an insect that I only became of aware of when I started collaborating with FIRE Lab; it holds a special place in my heart. I also find this creature’s life cycle fascinating. Mayflies, in many traditions are considered to carry one’s soul and hold one’s destiny. They are also ancient, shapeshifting, dancing insects closely connected to the salmon’s destiny as they are a vital food source for the fishes’ survival during its river trip.

The creations started as collages. Once I conceptualized the creature pairings, the search for the correct image began. I looked for ready-made images as I am not trained in scientific illustration and I envisioned my creatures to be visually related to the classic conservation biology designs. Most of the base images used for the “Underwater Realm” drawings were eventually found and downloaded from Shutterstock, an online library of royalty-free images. I showed images to the rest of the FIRE lab team to confirm the species was correct (since most of them work more closely with the species). Digital image manipulation, exporting the images from the computer, applying free hand sketching, re-digitising the images with a Wacom Inkspace tablet, talking about it with my colleagues and asking for some help from a friend when a tool was missing, completes the cycle of the hybrids’ creation.

Salmonmayfly has already been used as an inspiration for poetry writing within our group, and to create social media promotional material for the Underwater Haiku Exquisite Corpse Creation. I hope the Salmonmyfly and the rest of the “Underwater Realm” serves as a constant source of inspiration in the future Underwater Haiku Experience interdisciplinary sci-art events or maybe present them in a sci-art exhibition.

If you are interested in reading further about our project or participating in a future activity, please visit the Underwater Haiku Experience page on FIRE Lab website or follow as on our FIRE Lab Twitter.

One thought on “The creation of Salmonmayfly

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